Anyone who has seen the grim images of a crumbling Detroit circulating the Internet, or watched another so-called "Sputnik moment" wander idly by with nothing but lip service from our leaders, may feel that we aren't exactly pushing boundaries like we used to. But in a beautiful eulogy for an era of bygone glory, the WSJ has hit upon a point that's particularly sobering: for the first time in centuries, humanity is quite literally slowing down.
At nearly 25,000 miles per hour, Apollo 10 holds the record for the fastest manned vehicle ever, a record set during its return from the moon in May of 1969. It was the height of the space race--a term that in itself promoted speed as a national virtue--but while America's moon landing two months later during Apollo 11 would be largely remembered as the crowning scientific (and in many respects military) achievement of the Cold War, there were many envelope-pushing high-speed spectacles that preceded it.
For instance, Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier in an experimental X-1 rocket plane, marking the first of many speed and altitude records that would be broken by X-series rocket planes funded and flown by NASA and the Air Force for no real reason other than to see how fast and high we could go.
These led to the development of arguably the baddest jet aircraft of the era and of any era since, the SR-71 Blackbird, which went where it wanted whenever it wanted at speeds touching Mach 3.2 and altitudes above 85,000 feet. Likewise, the Concorde jet pushed the high-speed boundaries for civilian intercontinental travel, topping Mach 2 and allowing passengers to board a plane in London and land in New York at an earlier hour than the one in which it departed.
All of these aircraft have one thing in common: they don't fly anymore. And in June, the fastest reusable manned vehicles ever constructed, the Space Shuttles, will cease to fly as well. We still have some amazing hardware in the sky--the unmanned X-37 spaceplane and DARPA's hypersonic HTVs come to mind--but sadly her historically up-trending top speed seems to have plateaued. And when the shuttles retire, it's unclear when humankind will push the speed limits of manned travel again.
The unfortunate reality that we now live in is global bickering and domestic infighting. Only a small minority realizes that we must be working together to better human-kind.
The human race is terrible at long term planning, resource allocation, and civility.
The day we all figure out that butter is more nutritious than bullets, we will start moving forward again.
I understand that human life is sacred. To most people at least. But you have to see the greater picture, that technological evolution is necessary. We simply cannot allow humanity to go backwards, that is the beginning of the end. For the sake of the human race, we have to push boundaries, we have to try harder always, and if someone fails, and dies, well we can always mourn the dead, but send 10 times more people to do the job instead. In the western world we have forgotten the ancient rule, the slow will be eaten by the wolfs. As we savour our comfortable life, the eastern countries - India, China, Japan, South-Korea - are still able and willing to risk and be original, come up with new ideas. Sooner or later, Chinese will send people to the Moon, and the Mars as well. And when they go, they go to stay. I'm not saying this is a bad thing, but when the US and the EU will realize, that they have been left behind, the patriotism and anger will arise. Hopefully this will induce a new race, but not a Cold-War.
"but while America’s moon landing two months later during Apollo 11 would be largely remembered as the crowning scientific (and in many respects military) achievement of the Cold War".
or in many case's denied by local idiot's(alodrons last turd) around the world.
This is completely true, lack of 'industry' I put to blame. However I do see a new era dawning, like we are on the brink of something, and technology hasn't quite caught up to how our heads are thinking. To be honest, society lacks inspiration, motivation and perspective.
We spend more time figuring ourselves out, which all in all is good, the ISS is an 'international' effort, where once sworn enemies now co-op. We are still tied down with poverty, religion and other heavy drags on aspiring society. People have a better idea now with exactly where we stand in the universe and materialism. Perhaps our expectations have risen beyond control. Which is causing unhappiness. We have become too concerned with status and selfishness.
People have become soft. Climbing mount everest a century ago was a formidable foe, I for one have never climbed and have a phobia of heights. But to any experienced climber you can climb everest with a degree of safety that just wasn't available a century ago. Or the north pole expeditions, we can succeed with relative ease, whereas our predecessors were in a struggle to survive, with little protective clothing or tents, maps, radios.
We have to reflect on ourselves in this century, what do want, what we don't want, how will the human race survive sustainably? We need to set our priorities straight now there is less to discover. The effort and human resource necessary that will be needed to make Earth sustainable is enormous and at the moment is still at a 'hobby' level. My analogy is that it is still an effort to recycle the trash for most people. To summerise, we spend less time and money on ambitious adventures, this is good because in theory it will give us more time to reflect. We cannot progress until we control our regressive materialistic needs which are impeding our survival .
Mankind should slow way down--to about 1 mph and explore the deep ocean instead of wasting on endeavors in space in which there is no hope of colonizing until man has harnesses fusion and unlimited power sources.
No other planet will support earth life without living in suits so what's the point of that? It's not life but hell. Stay on earth and explore the 99% of the ocean that has never been explored for far less than outer space.
Also why populate the solar system with our breed of violence? Man needs to evolve to get rid of his hate first.
Don't agree. Speed in your terms is a 1950s relic -- a legacy of the analog age. Muscle car leftovers. Now while I'm as sad as the next guy to see the space shuttle era end, I don't think its all doom and gloom. FYI, we live in the digital age -- and the speed (and cost) of digital communications beats anything in the physical world -- and creates an entirely new paradigm for exploration, innovation and invention.
This is the result of millions of stupid people banding together to elect an unqualified President of the United States... we could be on our way to Mars right now if that drug addict was in Chicago, Hawaii or Kenya... where he belongs.
The x37B is pretty fast and we read about unexplainable flights being observed in CA & NV regularly. The demise of the Government Mega Agency is what we are witnessing and that is a sad but very necessary reality. Our next giant leaps will come from people that innovate better, faster and yes cheaper than NASA chose to.
Technology is alive and well doing the unthinkable daily. It doesn't have to be an airplane to be fast. Our travels beyond Newtonian Physics are going to blow your hair back in the coming years.
bobbyg, yes. We would literally be on our way to mars right now if John McCaine had been elected. Your an idiot. We're talking about science, not human political bigotry.
I feel we are witnessing the calm before the storm of technological development and discovery. Our species is finally starting to make tools not only powerful enough, but increasingly integrated and easy to use (i.e. neural interfacing) to start producing amazing things.
Human spaceflight isn't going anywhere fun until we get living in space down, as well as better propulsion. That comes from research on the ground and LEO.
As far as speed, the average person won't start going faster until we have an infrastructure revamp, or better automated air traffic systems.
nasa's demise is fantasy from ignorant people, the space shuttle era has ended because it is obsolete and has always been too expensive, nasa is deaply involved in the privatization of space and anyone who bothers to look around would already know this, popsci has had some stories on this, so quit bitchin' and watch the next era of space exploration begin, we should definatetly be exploring the oceans more, @gizmowiz, last i looked we needed an air tank or other life support system under water, living under water is close to what it would take to live on another planet and still doesn't solve the problem of ensuring humanity's survival in the long term
speed = greed
@ guns are cool You can refer to me as Aldrons Last Bitch Slap Across Your Face...have I made an impression on your small mind already? I've made my position known on this subject and feel no need to revisit it. Sorry that you can't use your common sense.
@gizmonwiz I agree with everything you said....except the problem is it's our destiny to colonize this solar system and beyond. Hopefully by the time we develop the technology to do so, we won't use it to blow ourselves to shreds.
The "bigger is better" mentality of the 50's is over. We don't need a bigger rocket to go faster now, we need more efficient nuclear engines, we need a breakthrough in electromagnetics...and these breakthroughs will happen. Humans have not even BEGUN to live up to our potential..we are still crawling....the speed of light should be our next goal.
Politics and science are so interwoven, this especially true in war time. We are pouring trillions into a war machine...when we could be pouring it into a space machine, this is a political problem. I see scientists for the most part as people who are used by politicians, bankers, generals. So it's important for the inventors and future engineers to try to see how their contributions might be used or mis-used. There is a reason for our slow down, and it's political...it has to do with the powers at be hording all of the resources for themselves...all the while we are mesmerized by I-Phone, PS3, American Idol <- All of which are cool..but take a step back and use some perspective...too much of anything isn't good, and we are drowning in our cheap plastic toys. Lean and Mean...was the motto's of the 40's...and that's what gave us the nuclear age.
@aldrons last turd
if by made your point, you mean you got but naked spread feces all over your self,while screaming at the top your lungs the moon lading was faked than yeah you made your point buddy.
@guns is my new bitch... I said I made my "position" clear...I guess you're not that good at reading, or understanding what you've read. I can't stoop to that level. That's quite disgusting...but I guess that is how you "debate" in your family?? LMAO you're a joke.
Surprisingly good comments on this article. Even Aldron's comments were interesting and mostly based in reality! Good to see.
stop feeding the troll, ignore her
@aldrons last turd
oh no I've read your delusional post it's just that there's nothing there but the ramblings of a troll.
the troll wont go away if you ignore it, you need someone to grab a torch and a pitch fork to drag it out of its hole.
Cool article, gives you a chance to stop and think about what's really going on in life's race to become "multiplanetary" to quote Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX.
in the past, aldron, ive considered you nothing but an ignorant, pessimistic troll, but now that i see exactly where you get your perspective from it's a lot harder to do that. Unfortunately, others seem to have their heads in the sand, or between their legs. but, rly now, is the whole "NASA's moon landing were a hoax" thing that plausible? but i digress, that's not a debate for this page.
dude, look at yourself. youre as much a troll as aldron is, and to boot instead of debating the points aldron put up, you simply attacked his person. if this were any reasonable forum you would be banned for being a complete bigot who has nothing to contribute.
If this was a reasonable forum i wouldn't have the need to say anything to that guy, someone ill's would have don so already instead of just ignoring him.if you've seen he and highermorals bitch fess in the x-47b post you would know his not worth debating.
@guns...if no one responds the trolls will definatley post less, they get off on the responses generated by their fishing expeditions
The SR-71 is one of the things that ignited in me the burning desire to become an engineer in the first place. And it still is a shining example for me of superb engineering skill, 40 years after it was comissioned. It still commands the "wow" effect from me, when I see the actual specs. This plane is a plane to rule them all.
Many of the planes that have come after, are technically better in ways. But they just don't have the solid brass balls that the Blackbird carries.
It is too bad, that my talent is designing information systems, because my love is for the mechanical stuff...
I want to see the human race to reach it's potential, unfortunately we live in a society that is governed by the monetary value of items and workers. We need to evolve past this to reach the true potential of our species. Fingers CROSSED!
There are several things wrong with this story.
One Dragon and Orion are BEO vehicle that will be faster then the shuttle.
Orion on an NEO mission will break all the Apollo speed records.
I expect LM or Spacex to break one of the Apllo speed record on purpose during testing just for PR.
Visiting EML2 would break the Apollo records.
If NASA builds Nautilus-X it will break every speed record set by Apollo by a factor of 2.
If nuclear electric with VASIMR is used it could even match those set by unmanned probes like New Horizons.
As for concord SS2 and Lynx will be much faster then it.
Though it it sad to see the lack of a good long range SST but I believe this is only temporary.
The Skylon project in the UK may also give rise to LAPCAT which would be more then twice as fast as the Concord.
BTW I hate the new captcha system.
im new here and i just love tech stuff. its sad to see the space shuttle program come to a halt. but as they say, out with the old in with the new. ive read some of your comments and i agree with what some of you guys say. well said aldron you took the words from me. the tech civilians have is so old compared to what the government has hidden from the public.
@gizmowiz Bingo! It is the responsibility of mankind to first understand the planet they inhabit in its entirety. Or at least place more focus on our World before exploring or understand other worlds beyond ours.
Mankind needs to restructure and go back to the drawing board as a collective force rather than fight wars initiated by our ancestors. We should give our lands to rightful owners as history can provide us or ERASE these invisible borderlines, and combine our intelligence and efforts to SAVE our futures explore unexplored land and create technology that will insure the survival of our species from man-made threats.
Lets all make an effort towards a United Planet...Who's with me?
If the religious have their way and decimate science, not only will we as a species slow but enter the second great dark ages… Society will be held back yet another 1000 years of progress as we regenerate backwards. Books are already slowly dying, pushed into digital media. Digital media is easily lost… forever in the new antiquity.
@my new bitch, if I'm not worth debating or communicating with do as drtroll suggests and ignore my points, that simple.
I recently posted on the Abiotic oil article agreeing with everything the article suggests...but because it's against the accepted scientific knowledge in the west I'm attacked..LOL so I'm attacked weather I agree or disagree with articles..just as long as I don't conform...LMAO...some people on here are conformist bullies.
But whatever, everyone has the right to their opinions and too express them freely.
@drtroll....damn would you like to follow me on twitter??
@noah_r we live in amazing time..the future is now. Looking back it isn't hard to find many instances where the public was mislead. So to think it's not happening now is wishful thinking.
im with you!! i agree with your statement. i think first we should colonize the oceans and skies and the underground of the earth before we colonize space. we should build floating cities on both the oceans and skies. well the bad thing about erasing borders is that people will take advantage of this and do destructive things. ONE government ONE currency ONE religion ONE world leader sounds all good but isnt that what the bible says will lead to the end of the world? now im no religious fanatic but i feel that some powers of the world will use the bible as a blueprint to rule the world.
@JediMindset Now I never stated I would promote one religion. I think preservation of culture and sacred space is important. Meaning a gov't will have to be structured in such a way that their are mini State Gov't that specialize in a regions customs without compromising it. They may be different regions for the purpose of identifying a land or its people however race is Titled : "The Human Race" for it is not debatable.
There shouldn't be a one world leader, in fact I think its should be structured in a way that individuals are voted into state gov't positions throughout the regions of the world. With people from different backgrounds and socio-economic class allowed access to share of power. Terms should be 1-2 years in these states with unlimited terms opportunities. At any point the people of that region can suspend or replace the leaders of that region to protect from the abuse of power.
In short power should be divided by Experts of different fields, Historians, Scientist,Philosophers, Alchemist, Teachers, Farmers, Military Experts (Army of Earth), Medical Practitioners, etc .... With the addition of a community leaders for those in lower to higher class Brackets with equal share.
The main goal is to insure the Survival of our Species and rid the world from HUNGER,a fair distribution of Financial Resources,Preservation of Natural Resources, rid pollutions, genocide, etc ......
Point is I can go on.
The TRUTH is you are right, there are minds at work as we speak who are using the "Bible" as a tool to stage events that will soon be used to exploit are race. We all feel something in our consciousnesses that create a sense of worry for our planet. However, with are minds glued to the television, concerned about how many women Tiger Woods , and Charlie Sheen slept with. It is hard to bring the awareness of those in a position to assist their neighbors to a state of complete consciousness.
We must avoid distracting ourselves and others if you want to progress the world into a positive era. See past our differences and see what we share in common. Do not let those in the position of power dictate our futures. Stand up and do something about it! Not Tomorrow, Not Even Today. NOW!